Amid over-reporting, NDA’s toilet building spree via Swachh Bharat Mission has improved sanitation but its focus needs to shift to behavioural change.
Everyday in villages and towns, alongside roads and railway tracks, millions of Indians defecate in the open. Coming into power, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), like governments before it, promised to end this practice. Setting itself a target of 2 October 2019, Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, the NDA-II embarked on an unprecedented toilet-construction spree through the Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM). Even after accounting for over-reporting in official numbers, SBM has reduced open defecation—but without tackling the deeper causes of India’s open defecation habit.
Toilet construction has received so much attention because India is a global laggard in sanitation coverage. According to data from the World Bank, in 2015, 44% of Indians defecated in the open.
And while this has decreased significantly (from 75% in 1990), countries that are poorer than India, such as Bangladesh, Pakistan and several sub-Saharan countries, have significantly lower open defecation rates.
Open defecation also partly explains why India lags behind developing countries on child health indicators such as nutrition and stunting. Faecal germs from open defecation are transmitted to children, hurting their development....Read more
Source web page: Livemint